Gio Reyna says he is ready “for a bigger role” in the Borussia Dortmund team in 2020/21 after adapting well to the Bundesliga last term, and impressing in pre-season for Lucien Favre’s side.
Still just 17, the New York native made 15 top-flight outings for BVB in 2019/20, having been promoted to the first team from the U19s over the winter break. His assured displays in attacking midfield drew widespread praise, with USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter keen to hand him his senior international debut as soon as possible.
Not one to rest on his laurels, however, Reyna carried his eye-catching ability into Dortmund’s preparations for the new campaign and scored a team-high four of the side’s 26 goals in pre-season, starting several games.
Watch: Reyna's brace against Austria Vienna in pre-season
At a press-conference after training this week, a reporter remarked that Reyna seemed more composed and self-assured, and asked what had changed.
“I think it’s a bit of everything,” he replied. “The most important thing for me is confidence, which I’ve gotten a lot of over the last six weeks in pre-season. I’m doing well, I’ve gotten closer with a lot of the guys. They’ve really accepted me now and they expect me to have a big season for them too. I just think confidence is the biggest thing that’s improved for me.”
No longer a wide-eyed newcomer unsure of what to expect from Germany’s top flight, Reyna believes his experiences in the 2019/20 Rückrunde have stood him in good stead for the upcoming campaign: “I learned a lot last season in my first six months in the Bundesliga, getting used to the professional speed of play and physicality.
“I think I made a big jump and I think everybody knows I’m ready to play more and have a bigger role in the team now.”
Watch: Reyna ready to seize his chance at Dortmund
Having scored one jaw-dropping goal in the DFB Cup in February, and teed up Erling Haaland in the UEFA Champions League, Reyna’s vision of what a “bigger role” might entail essentially involves more of the same.
“I just want to play as much as I can and to start many more games this year,” he explained. “I want to score goals and have assists also. I want to help the team in any way so that we can win. I want to try to win the Bundesliga, the DFB Cup and the Champions League too, because we’re a big club. I’m still so young so I can grow in many different areas. I just want to learn new things every day.”
Despite his rapid progress and sprinkling of goals in pre-season, the right-footed attacker is not taking his place in the team for granted, especially as captain Marco Reus is now fully recovered from injury.
“Marco’s done so much for this club and is obviously a world-class player,” Reyna said. “Of course there’s competition, and it’s healthy competition. It may not now be as easy [to get playing time] as when he was injured, but there are still so many positives to having him back in the team. I can still play in other positions and he can too. It’s not only him [that there will be competition with], we have other good attackers this season, so it’s against other guys as well. I’m happier to have him back than not.”
The reshuffled match schedule as a result of the coronavirus pandemic could work in Reyna’s favour, with head coach Lucien Favre likely to need to rotate his team as the fixtures pile up.
“I’m ready for an exciting year – we know it’s going to be a long year because we have lots of games,” he continued. “I think we’re both [fellow 17-year-old Jude Bellingham] going to get opportunities this year for sure, so it’s just about whether we take them or not.”
The ultimate aim remains to win some silverware, and Reyna is confident that Dortmund are in a good position to do so: “I think we’re stronger this season than last season. We’ve added few exciting, energetic pieces that will help our team with a tight schedule this year. We’ve got more depth, which is good to have.”